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Illegal, unscientific sand mining in Sutlej basin reaches alarming level, Locals living in panic of floods

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SHIMLA- Illegal and unscientific sand mining in the Sutlej River basin in Himachal Pradesh has reached an alarming level despite directions from High Court and criticism from environmentalists and locals. The basin is on the verge of destruction that will attract dreadly environmental hazards.  While locals face inconvenience and disappointed from authorities when they seek permission queering sand for their personal use, wealthy and influential people enjoy complete liberty.

Current efforts of the authorities are minimal due to interference of influential people, politicians, and rampant corruption as mining business is involves ridiculous amount of money.  Honest mining or police officials who try to follow their duty and take action against mining mafia are instantly transferred instead of being encouraged.  

Read:Baddi’s Singham – IPS Gaurav Singh slapped with transfer orders for standing against mining and drug mafia

According to a report published in Times of India, mafia has carried out illegal mining up to Satluj River with the depth of 50 to 100 feet and around 600 meter deep pits are already dug.  After sand is finished, the mafia is now extracting stone from the river basin. This can cause diversion of the river towards the village during rainy season. Mafia is even threatening the ancient temples that are on the verge of falling down with the extensive digging. Around 600 meters deep pits have already been dug by illegal miners, first they took off entire sand and on finding no more sand they are now digging stones.

Locals alleged that a month back previous SDM Rampur tried to stop the mafia after receiving complaints, but was soon transferred in couple of days.

People of Busher’s Dutt Nagar are now living in fear that water will flood their houses if the mining mafia isn’t stopped.  They allege that the illegal business is going on with full cooperation from the administration.

Himachal Pradesh Industry Department  claims that 3,875 cases of illegal sand mining have been registered so far. Fines have been imposed in 2,600 cases and  over Rs. 2 crore has been collected as fine. Many other cases remains pending due to ongoing trials.

Also Read: Illegal Mining in Shimla: Mining officials take note of complaints, challans and notices issued to offenders

Himachal Watcher had also reported cases of illegal mining in district Shimla after which the Mining Department conducted raids and caught culprits red-handed. However,  trivial penalties or cases do not bother the wealthy and influential people patronizing illegal mining and dumping. The nexus between Himachal Pradesh Government’s authorities  and mining mafia is openly working for both parties uninterrupted.  Though,  the authorities assures breakdown on the mafia, the condition is only getting worse.  

Also Read/Photos: Blatant illegal mining, dumping on Mashobra-Bekhalti road in broad daylight despite High Court warning

The stretch between Kinnaur and Rampur has witnessed unusually rapid growth of sand mafia during past four years that is now threatening the fragile ecology of Himachal Pradesh. 

The locals are in unrest and alleges that illegal miners are getting protection from the mining officers, but the common people are not allowed to quarry sand in their own field for their personal uses like building construction etc. Despite repeated complaints by locals with the mining department, no actions are taken either by police or mining department officials, who are “bribed” by big miners.  Rather, they only harass villagers.

Also Read: Round the clock illegal mining in Balh, Dharampur, Pandoh rivulets and Beas riverbed

The Industry Department is planning stringent norms and to intensify vigilance and raids on illegal sand queering here. The penalty has been increased. A tractor is fined Rs. 4,500, a truck with a capacity seven tonne is fined Rs. 7,000 and a truck with a capacity of more than 10 tonne is fined Rs. 25,000. The increased penalty is helping minimize the illegal sand mining in the region,” Himachal Pradesh Industry Department Director Rajesh Sharma, told ANI

It’s shocking to witness such non-governance from the elected government. Instead, government authorities are making hay while the sun shines over sand/stone mafia in Himachal.  What the corrupt government officials and illegal miners are not aware of is the environmental catastrophe they are inviting to their own home.   

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Environment

Watch: An interesting case of leopard sighting in Shimla’s Dhanda locality

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Shimla: People of Dhanda, a sort of suburb near the Totu in Shimla city, on Saturday found a leopard roaming around in their neighborhood in broad daylight. Leopard sightings in Himachal Pradesh are not unusual and Shimla is no exception. After all Himachal has 65 percent forest cover, as per official statistics.

However, this leopard was behaving like a stray dog that is used to living among humans. The big cat was not responding to the noises made by the people to scare off the animal.

The animal was not aggressive or afraid.

Watch: An interesting case of leopard sighting in Shimla’s Dhanda locality

The leopard casually walked onto an under-construction floor of a residential building.

Luckily, the people did not harm the cat at all. In other parts of India, animals like leopard pay with their lives for straying into a human habitat. The people beat them to death with sticks and stone pelting.

But here, in Shimla, people informed the forest department about it, which was the right thing to do. Meanwhile, they just tried to scare it off so that it returns to the jungle. The people were discussing why the animal was behaving in an unusual way.

The people deserve appreciation for it because in most cases these animals revert as a defense to any sort of assaults by humans. 

A resident posted some pictures and two videos of the incident. One of the video showed the animal roaming inside the residential locality. The other one showed the forest officials carrying the leopard on a stretcher and the crowd including kids following them.

They speculated it might have escaped from a zoo, which is why it was accustomed to human presence.

They spotted some wound on leopard’s body and assumed that perhaps the cat was injured.

Watch: An interesting case of leopard sighting in Shimla’s Dhanda locality

The wildlife wing of the forest department arrived at the scene (this time with tranquilizer guns) and spotted the leopard in nearby bushes.

The animal was carried to the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre situated in Tutikandi. It was identified as a seven-months-old female. It is not clear how it happened to stray into the locality. 

The matter also pertains to the critical issue of man and animal conflict due to depletion of natural habitat. HW will try to get hold of the vet on Monday for a follow up.

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Environment

Pollution killed 25 lakh people in India in one year – highest in the world: Report

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air pollution deaths in India

Applying similar legislation and regulation from high-income countries to low- and middle-income countries could help to improve and protect health as countries develop.

While the leaders of the ruling political party are trying to politicize the firecracker ban imposed in Delhi by the Supreme Court, India has achieved another milestone – highest number of deaths due to various kinds of pollutions.

The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health released its report on October 19. As per the report, air pollution is the biggest killer of all.

The report said out of total 6.5 million (65 lakhs) deaths reported worldwide, 28% occurred only in India. Air pollution mainly resulted in diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and COPD.

Almost all (92%) pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

The findings of the say that in 2015, pollution killed about 2.5 million (25 lakhs) people. China reported the second highest number of deaths at 1.8 million (18 lakhs) during the same year.

Pollution Deaths in India

Info: Global Alliance on Health and Pollution

It implies that air pollution kills doubt the number of people killed by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

The next largest risk factor was water pollution the caused gastrointestinal diseases and parasitic infections.Workplace pollution including exposure to toxins and pneumoconiosis in coal workers, bladder cancer in dye workers, and asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers in workers exposed to asbestos.

Finally, lead pollution resulted from high blood pressure, renal failure, and cardiovascular disease caused by lead in adults.

As per the report, human activities, including industrialisation, urbanisation, and globalisation, are all drivers of pollution.

Types of pollution associated with industrial development, such as ambient air pollution (including ozone), chemical, occupational pollution and soil pollution, have increased from 4.3 million (9.2%) in 1990 to 5.5 million (10.2%) in 2015 as countries reach higher levels of development.

The greatest impacts occured in countries that are currently undergoing rapid development and industrialisation – with pollution responsible for up to one in four deaths in the most severely affected countries (such as in India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Madagascar and Kenya).

As countries develop and industrialise, the type of pollution and the related health problems they face change.

For example, water pollution and household air pollution are more common in early stages of industrial development, causing higher rates of pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases in low- and middle-income countries.

Economic costs of pollution

The costs of pollution-related death and disease are also highly concentrated in developing regions imposing vast costs on national budgets – equivalent to around 1.3% GDP in low-income countries, compared to around 0.5% GDP in high-income countries, and 0.13% GDP globally. Healthcare spending on pollution-related diseases also disproportionately affects lower income countries – accounting for an estimated 7% of health spending in middle-income countries each year, and 1.7% annual spend in high-income countries.

Welfare losses due to deaths and disease from pollution equate to US$4.6 trillion each year (equivalent to 6.2% of global economic output). Proportionately, low-income countries pay 8.3% of their gross national income to pollution-related death and disease, while high-income countries pay 4.5%.

Environmental Injustice

The environmental injustice often violates these people’s human rights.

Pollution, poverty, poor health, and social injustice are deeply intertwined. Pollution and related diseases most often affect the world’s poor and powerless, and victims are often the vulnerable and the voiceless. As a result, pollution threatens fundamental human rights, such as the right to life, health, wellbeing, safe work, as well as protections of children and the most vulnerable

Says Commission author Karti Sandilya, Pure Earth, USA.

In order to tackle pollution, we must prioritise it as an issue that affects us all, integrating it into health planning, and increasing funding to allow more research into pollution, such as monitoring pollution and its effects, and developing ways to control pollution,

says Commission co-lead, Richard Fuller, Pure Earth, USA.

Pollution can be eliminated, and pollution prevention can be highly cost-effective – helping to improve health and extend lifespan, while boosting the economy. This has been seen in high-income and some middle-income countries where legislation has helped to curb the most flagrant forms of pollution, and has led to cleaner air and water, lower blood lead concentrations, removal of hazardous waste sites, and less polluted and more liveable cities, the report further said.

The report suggest that pollution is not the inevitable consequence of economic development, and applying similar legislation and regulation from high-income countries to low- and middle-income countries could help to improve and protect health as countries develop.

Top Photo: Hindustan Times

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Environment

HP Polls 2017: EC directs parties to use eco-friendly & biodegradable material for publicity

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eco-friendly campaing material in Indian elections

Shimla: With the announcement of the polling and counting date for the General Elections to the Legislative Assembly of Himachal Pradesh would come an environmental menace – waste of publicity material left by party workers during campaigning period. Use of flex boards would be an suitable example.

Considering the fact that the public, administration, and the politicians are least concerned about environmental or visual pollution, it was necessary that the Election Commission interfere here.

In its notification issued regarding the schedule for the elections, the Election Commission of India has included separate direction to all the political parties, contesting candidates and their authorized agents etc. to desist from utilizing environmentally hazardous materials like plastics, polythene etc for the preparation and usage election-related publicity materials.

The EC has directed them to use eco-friendly and bio-degradable substances for preparing election campaign or publicity material.

The EC has directed the DEOs and ROs to emphasize the importance of environment protection and preservation during the meetings with the political parties and contesting candidates. They were also asked to ensure that the the political parties adhere to the instructions of the Commission with regard to the usage of non-eco-friendly materials.

The Commission has directed all the CEOs to instruct all the political parties in their respective states regarding the usage of eco-friendly and biodegradable materials.

The concern of the Commission about the long-term deleterious impact of materials like plastics, polythene etc on the life-giving and life-sustaining environment is worth appreciable provided it is actually followed.

The political parties and their leaders bear the moral and ethical duty of passing instruction to their party-workers to adhere to the EC directions and help keep Himachal clean.

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